Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Internet Special Education Resources
Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory

Getting your Child with ADHD to get His Homework Done

by Linda Karanzalis, M.S., Learning Specialist / ADD Coach
Q.I dread when my child comes home from school and the home-work battle begins. It causes chaos in our home right up until bedtime. Why is it so difficult for my child to do home-work?

A.Take heart, you are not alone in this dilemma. Children with ADD have ongoing struggles with homework. From the moment the assignment is given to completion, many skills and behaviors are involved. Being easily distracted means your child has a difficult time with each of the steps below. Each one of these steps is a challenge and causes conflict.

  1. Processing the assignment (hearing, writing and understanding it).
  2. Deciding what materials should be brought home to complete assignments.
  3. Unpacking the book bag, organizing materials, prioritizing assignments and managing time.
  4. Doing the work by putting forth extra effort on a boring task. Those with ADD have brains that shut down com-plex, tedious tasks without stimulation.
  5. Pack up book bag.
  6. Turn the homework in.

Q.How much time should I allow my child to spend on homework?

A.The rule of thumb to follow is 10 minutes per grade level. Typically children with ADD take two to three times longer to complete homework than their peers. As your child gets older, the amount of time it takes causes distress and takes away from the benefit of homework. Schedule a meeting with your child's teacher. Bring samples of work with notes on how long it took to complete each assignment and AD Dvantages LEARNING CENTER what it took to get it . done. Ask for sug-gestions and have a follow up meeting. If the struggle con-tinues, your next step is to request a 504 Plan* in writ-ing, which will pro-vide accommoda-tions and modifica-tions for homework and in-class sup-port. If your child is on medication, you may want to contact your physician and ask about a small dose after school to help with home-work, but one that won't keep your child up at night. Your physician will help you determine if this is best for your child.

Q.What types of strategies can I use at home to help my child with homework?

A.Allow your child to unwind for a half hour before start-ing homework. During this time, try to have your child do something physical: stationary bike, treadmill or good old fash-ioned outside play. Research indicates physical activity improves focus. Make sure your child starts homework immedi-ately afterwards to utilize this benefit. Your role is to provide structure, support and encouragement. .. not to re-teach them the work. Homework is for your child, not you! Stay focused on actually learning some-thing from it, rather than just getting it over with or earning the grade. To be successful, most of the children I see need to have a behavior modification program in place which has been designed specifically for them. A "one size fits all" approach is not beneficial. This involves setting up rules, rewards and consequences along with parent coaching.

Q.How can I help my child get organized?

A.If your child is anything like others with ADD, your child's r00111 and book bag probably look like a disaster area. You can help your child by color-coding his or her textbooks, notebooks and folders by subject area. Visuals are extremely helpful to children with ADD. Post a list of what needs to be done, and in what order, after school. A clear plastic folder works well for holding completed homework

*A 504 Plan is a legal document that protects those with disabilities or other health impairments so they can receive special accommodations in school to achieve belterlearning.

Linda Karanzalis, M.S., founder and owner of ADDvantages Learning Center in Cherry Hill is the coordinator of CHADD of South Jersey, a non-profit organization serving children and adults with attention deficit disorder. Listen to her "Ask the ADDvisor," radio show on 92.1 FM. For more info contact Linda Karanzalis at (856) 482-0756 or at

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Return to ISER Home